It was a very busy weekend for Seton Swimming with six (6) of our top girls at Loyola University in Baltimore for the National Catholic High School Championship, and the rest of our team at Seton’s annual Winter Invitational at Freedom. Squeezing it all in between the March for Life on Friday and an important business trip for me to Israel made the weekend feel even busier last year.
I continue to be amazed by our parent volunteers who help make it all possible. Even with several of our key volunteers in Baltimore, we ran our annual Seton Winter Invitational with 205 swimmers without missing a beat. I continue to be most impressed with how Bill Dealey just handles all of the entries and scoring with no intervention from me at all. Thank you to Paul Fifield who is stepping up to learn the computer systems that we use to make everything run so smoothly. Welcome to the team Paul!
I am a big believer in developing swimmers who can swim any stroke and any distance, so one of my goals for each season is to get as many kids as possible to swim all eight events. Because all of the remaining Varsity meets are championship meets, this weekend is always the last chance to get that done. So, when I did the entries, I simply took the spreadsheet with what everyone has swum so far this season and tried to fill in as many blanks as possible.
I’ve done this long enough that I should no longer be surprised at the results, but I was surprised once again. The magnitude of the Personal Records was breathtaking in so many cases. Even more exciting for me was watching so many of our younger swimmers swim events like the 200 Free, 500 Free, 200 IM and 100 Fly for the very first time and conquer their fears. For others, even a 100-yard event for the first time was a real accomplishment.
I try to tell each of you that, in your life, there is always going to be a long line of people waiting to tell you that you cannot do something. Never jump to the head of that line! So often, our biggest obstacle to overcoming a challenge is ourselves. The 500 Free is a perfect example.
In all my time coaching, I’ve never seen anyone die swimming the 500 Free. In fact, I’ve never seen any who started the race not complete it. We swim much farther than that every day in practice, and many of you swam 10 times that far for the Cystic Fibrosis Swim-a-thon. So why do I always I hear “I’m going to die” or “I could never do that”?
One of the greatest lessons of swimming is that you can always do more than you think you can do. A lot of young swimmers learned that lesson well on Saturday.
There have been countless stories of how kids have learned this lesson, but one of my favorites is Jonathon Rosato – or “Charlie Bucket” as his friends at the time called him. You can find his story on Seton Swimming’s All-Time Greatest Swims YouTube channel which has a link under the “About” menu on the home page – or you can click here. Make sure you click “Show More” below the video to read the whole story.
And if you want to see what confidence can do for a young man in his life, check out Jonathan Rosato in 2013 here.
For this one, I was not at all concerned with the final scores, particularly on the girl’s side where six (6) of our top girls were up at National Catholics at Loyola University in Baltimore. As I said, this one was about individual swimmers stretching themselves by swimming events they were not accustomed to swimming.
In spite of that, we won every meet in which we were engaged. Here’s the way the meet scores turned out for Seton:
Seton 151 Christchurch 115
Seton 172 Covenant 82
Seton 173 Wakefield School 93
Seton 192 TC Williams High School 55
Seton 211 Middleburg Academy 28
Seton 212 Fresta Valley Christian 20
Seton 167 Christchurch 98
Seton 166 Wakefield School 86
Seton 166 TC Williams High School 83
Seton 171 Covenant 63
Seton 184 Fresta Valley Christian 71
Seton 207 Middleburg Academy 13
Conquering Fears and Expanding Horizons
Last year, I vividly recall getting so excited by what I was seeing in this meet, that I resolved to find a way to write a 4,500-word research paper from economy seats in two airplanes and restaurant tables in two different airports on my way to an important business meeting in Israel – and it is SOOO worth it. This year, I’m just as excited, but I fortunately get to write this from the comfort of my office.
There were many anxious young swimmers on deck when I arrived at the Freedom Center from Baltimore on Saturday. They were anxious because they were swimming events like the 500 Free or 200 IM for the very first time, and they were concerned that they could not do it. I even had one swimmer e-mail me in advance because his mother was concerned that I had made a mistake on his entries. Nope, I didn’t make a mistake. You gotta trust me ladies – your babies are not babies anymore.
Young Chris Arnold (7) summed it up his experience in the 500 Free best when he told one of the Captains, “That was fun!”. Yes, I’ve heard that before. I also commonly hear from kids who have just completed the 500 Free for the first time, “Can I do that I again? I think I can do better next time.”
Before I highlight all the kids who successfully conquered their fears while learning a valuable life lesson, let me tell you about first-year swimmer, Elena Morano. Elena is a senior and has never swum competitively. She decided to join the Seton Swim Team this year anyway. That made me very happy.
What made me even happier was when Elena noticed that we had an empty lane in the Girls 500 Free and asked, “Can I try it?”
“Heck yeah you can try it Elena! Go get your cap and googles!”. After a brief pause, I added, “And make sure you do all 19 flip turns.”
Doubting whether she should have brought this whole idea up in the first place, she said with obvious concern, “I don’t know if I can do flip turns when I’m tired.”
I thought about that for second and then I told her, “Elena, this is probably the last time you will ever have to get a chance to compete in the 500 Free in an official meet. You don’t want to be laying in bed tonight thinking that you could have done 19 flip turns but only did 18. Do all 19 flip turns.”
And she did. Elena dove in and studiously applied all she had learned about how to swim an efficient freestyle. The whole experience gave me 10:34.18 seconds of some of the greatest joy I had experienced in the entirety of the busy swimming weekend.
I am so proud of you Elena Morano.
Here are the 24 other Seton Swimmers who learned the all-important life lesson that they can always do more than they think they can do:
- Michael McGrath (8) – 200 IM in 3:24.84 and 500 Free in 7:34.04
- Lucia Bingham (7) – 200 IM in 3:07.82 and 500 Free in 8:02.77
- Mary Catherine Hurley (7) – 200 IM in 3:15.41 and 500 Free in 8:13.54
- Virginia Hartung (JR) – 200 IM in 3:47.25 and 500 Free in 8:18.58
- Rose Waldron (7) – 200 IM in 3:31.20 and 500 Free in 9:03.65
- Amelia “Grandma” Geary (8) – 200 IM in 3:38.06 and 500 Free in 9:37.98
- Joseph Dwane (8) – 500 Free in 11:09.06 and 200 Free in 4:05.61
- Shannon O’Malley (7) – 200 IM in 3:06.56 and 100 Fly in 1:39.84
- Liam Halisky (7) – 500 Free in 8:08.52
- Clare Waldron (SO) – 500 Free in 8:18.29
- Chris Arnold (7) – 500 Free in 8:26.86
- Seth Kellogg (7) – 500 Free in 9:25.04
- Orla Haggerty (7) – 500 Free in 9:34.16
- Peter Hartung (7) – 500 Free in 9:35.87
- Cate Waldron (8) – 500 Free in 11:03.82
- Maggie Gibbons (8) – 200 IM in 2:49.56
- Lucy Cunningham (7) – 200 IM in 3:11.19
- Ryan Beltran (8) – 200 IM in 3:14.15
- Julia Atkinson (8) – 200 IM in 3:22.16
- Elodie Brox (7) – 200 IM in 3:26.70
- Elizabeth Dwane (SO) – 200 IM in 3:32.53
- Haley Fifield (7) – 100 Fly in 1:37.42
- Jo Hartung (8) – 200 Free in 3:49.00
- Kyle Da Re (JR) – 200 Free in 4:14.75
Sometimes improvement is so incremental and expected, that we might not fully comprehend how much we are improving – like the 50 Free where some get a new PR seemingly every week.
Then we swim an event like the 200 Free where the last time we did it was at Time Trials. With nearly an entire season intervening, the improvement can be mind boggling, particularly for a new swimmer who’s been taught to swim for something other than fun or safety for the very first time.
And when I say “mind-boggling”, I’m talking about improvements that can sometimes be measured in half or even whole minutes. Here are some of the kids that are inspired all of us with their dramatic improvements on Saturday. Not all of them are young, but many are new to the team and accomplished something truly great on Saturday:
- Chris Lynch (8) dropped a nearly unbelievable 61.01 seconds from his 200 Free PR. Amazing! He also cut 8.90 seconds in 100 Back.
- Peter Konstanty (8) took 57.79 seconds off of his 500 Free PR. His resulting time of 6:57.21 earned him a spot on the post-season varsity team!
- Elena Morano (SR) didn’t just swim the 500 Free. In the 200 Free, she dropped an amazing 50.06 seconds!
- Emma Catabui (SO) cut 49.89 seconds from her 200 Free PR. Wow!
- Jo Hartung (8) beat her 100 Back PR by 28.08 after tweaking a muscle in her leg. That didn’t stop her!
- Mary Clare Waldron (SO) crushed her previous PR in 200 Free by 27.19 seconds.
- Joey Arnold (SR) lowered his 100 Fly time by 22.74 seconds. Coach Mulhern was very excited.
- Chris Arnold (7) cut 36.60 seconds from his 200 Free PR
- Meg Blanchette (7) dropped 30.79 seconds in 200 Free
- Sophia Zadnik (SO) had a great swim in 200 Free, going 23.26 second faster than ever before
- Orla Haggerty (7) swam her 200 Free 16.75 seconds faster than ever before.
- Cate Waldron (8) beat her previous best time in 200 Free 14.27 seconds
- Michael Brox (7) lowered his 200 Free PR by 13.52 seconds
- Jed Albin (8) dropped 13.29 seconds in 100 Back
- Catriona Linton (SO) lowered her 100 Fly PR by 12.66 seconds.
- Max Wilson (7) cut 12.08 seconds from his 200 Free PR.
- Dominick Tolentino (SR) dropped 10.36 seconds in 100 Back
- David Hudson (8) cut 9.61 seconds from his 100 Fly PR.
- Aaron “A-Ron” Bishop (8) conquered the 500 Free in last meet 10.51 seconds faster than ever before.
- Kathleen O’Malley (SR) beat her previous 500 Free PR by 10.50 seconds.
- Ava Hudson (8) came back to conquer the 500 Free 8.22 seconds faster than she ever had before. She also lowered her 100 Breaststroke PR by 7.58 seconds.
The Big Boys are Fighting for a Place on the State Team
We had two senior boys improve their chances for one or more swims at the State Championship meet in a few weeks:
- Jacob Alsup (SR) didn’t drop a half a minute in anything, but he did do something nearly as impressive. Jacob split 24.03 in a 200 Free Relay, beating his previous best split by .57 seconds and jumping up the “A” 200 Free Relay for the VISAA Division II Invitational. He also cut .78 seconds from his 100 Fly to go a very fast 1:03.78.
- Jeremy Kleb (SR) had a great meet also, swimming three flat-start PRs and a relay split PR. He cut a big 4.45 seconds in 100 Back, .83 seconds in 200 IM and .18 seconds in 50 Free leading off a relay. His most impressive swim though was his 58.64 100 Free split in the 400 Free Relay. That was 1.05 seconds faster than his flat-start PR, and has him in 9th position for the State 400 Free relay – just .25 seconds behind the 8th faster swimmer on the team. One more good weekend and Jeremy could make it onto the State team.
We also had a few other boys make some movement up the rankings that will determine our relay line-ups in the coming weeks:
- Nathan Luevano (FR) split 25.48 in a 200 Free relay to move up to 10th. Nathan was already on the 400 Free “B” Relay, but he moved up to the 6th fastest swimmer with an outstanding 56.80 split, nearly a second faster than previously.
- John McGrath (JR) split 25.84 in a 200 Free relay, nearly a second faster than his previous best, to move up to the 11th fastest time 50 Free on the team. John also moved up to 11th in 100 Free with his 59.43 split in the 400 Free Relay
I have a whole separate blog posted on the topic of State Meet qualifiers, so please see that blog for details on where everyone stands.
There Were So Many Other Personal Record Swims
I’ve already mentioned numerous Personal Records, but here are the rest of the 62 PRs that I have not yet had an opportunity to highlight. Considering how many swims we had for which there was no previous time (therefore it is impossible to get a new PR), 62 is a really incredible figure:
- Mick Fioramonti (8) had an awesome 100 Breaststroke, dropping 6.19 seconds
- Catriona Linton (SO) cut 5.94 seconds in 200 Free.
- Moira Haggerty (FR) also had a big drop in 100 Breaststroke. Her’s was by 5.32 seconds.
- John McGrath (JR) dropped 4.79 seconds in 500 Free and .89 seconds in 50 Free.
- Nathan Luevano (8) lowered his already fast 200 Free PR by another 4.76 seconds.
- Elizabeth Dwane (SO) swam 100 Fly 4.61 seconds faster than ever before.
- JJ Brox (FR) crushed his previous best 100 Free time by 3.96 seconds going 1:01.26. It’s just a matter of time before JJ breaks the 1:00 barrier. He also cut .43 seconds from his 100 Breaststroke PR.
- Kathleen O’Malley (SR) cut 3.83 seconds from her 100 Fly PR
- Lily Byers (SO) dropped 3.31 seconds in 200 Free, .62 seconds in 50 Free, and .38 seconds in 100 Free leading off a relay. It was a great weekend for Lily!
- Evan Wilson (JR) swam 200 IM 3.23 seconds faster than ever before. He also cut another .73 seconds from his 100 Back PR.
- Teresa Bingham (SO) lowered her 100 Breaststroke PR by 2.83 seconds and her 50 Free PR by .29 seconds.
- Elodie Brox (7) swam 100 Breaststroke 2.72 seconds faster than ever before.
- Ceili Koehr (SO) had a great swim in the 200 IM, particularly her backstroke leg, and the result was a 2.72 second PR. Ceili also cut .84 seconds from her 100 Breaststroke PR.
- Julia Atkinson (8) cut 2.48 seconds from her 100 Fly PR
- Clare Flynn (8) swam 100 Backstroke 1.70 seconds than ever before.
- Seth Kellogg (7) lowered his 200 Free PR by 1.65 seconds.
- Meg Blanchette (7) beat her previous best 100 Free time by 1.49 seconds
- Madelyn Zadnik (8) dropped a whopping 1.43 seconds from her 50 Free
- Sophia Zadnik (SO) lowered her 50 Free PR by another 1.27 seconds.
- David Hudson (8) cut 1.05 seconds from his 100 Breaststroke PR.
- Mary O’Malley (SO) hit PRs in 50 Free by .88 seconds, in 100 Free by .33 seconds, and in 100 Free again leading off a relay by .26 seconds.
- Peter Konstanty (8) beat his 50 Free PR by .76 seconds.
- Lauren Curley (SR) dropped another .71 seconds in 50 Free
- Joey Dealey (FR) lead of a 200 Free Relay with a .68 second PR in 50 Free.
- Max Wilson (7) cut another .56 seconds from his 100 Back PR.
- Jed Albin (8) swam a .19 second PR in 50 Back leading off a medley relay
- Ryan Beltran (8) dropped .18 seconds in 100 Free.
- Lucia Bingham (7) beat her 100 Back PR by .11 seconds.
There’s been so much to say, but let’s wrap it up with some final notes:
- This week is the last week for all swimmers who are not on the Post-Season Varsity Team
- That is because, for all the remaining Varsity meets, there are no exhibition entries.
- But the good news is that next weekend is one of my favorite meets of the year, our annual Junior Varsity Invitational at the Fitch WARF.
- All 7th through 9th graders are eligible, and you will get a chance to swim against kids you own age. I expect we’ll do quite well!
It was a great weekend. Let’s make the most of the rest of the season!
Coach Jim Koehr